Past Participle


As we get older, we begin to be more aware of time and its passage. Eventually, it becomes like a roll of toilet paper – the closer we get to the end, the faster it goes. This Poem if the Week touches on this theme.

Past Participle

Time is a substance of varying density
Its thickly ethereal gauzy immensity
Wrought by subjective subconscious propensity
Time is a lobe of the brain
And the past stays underfoot forever
Quicksand potential for every endeavor
Stepstool or beartrap or sidewalk or tether
The past is a fickle terrain
But interpretable just the same

Copyright © 2010 by Dave Grossman

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The Toilet Paper Tug of War


As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we can need to heed the lesson from Dave’s poem on  cooperation if we are to survive our turbulent times. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The Toilet Paper Tug of War

The toilet paper tug of war
A precarious, fanciful act
Not so focused on trying to score
As on keeping the paper intact
Cooperative competition
Knowing when and how to fall
Preserve the delicate conditions
In which you can play the game at all

Copyright © 2010 by Dave Grossman

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In Praise of Pants


Life is always better lived with gratitude. Today’s Poem of the Week offers my friend Dave’s tongue-in-cheek paean to an everyday item we all would be hard put to live without.

In Praise of Pants

When impinged by winter wind
By snow or sunshine’s pointed lance
Legs encased in merest skin
I’m glad I’ve got my pants When hiking hilltops far and wide
Through prickery stickery plants
When chiggers smell my delicate hide
Thank goodness for my pants When fickle whim of Venus grants
Emergent courtship song and dance
It’s possible to sink the chance
For vulnerable new romance
If, by rueful happenstance
My pasty uprights should be glanced
I camouflage the pale expanse
By masquerade of pants And when my flimsy fleshy stilts
Are nipped by yappy schnauzers
Give me not your skirts and kilts
But armor me with trousers Though some will claim that they confine
Preferring free and open air
Mostly those from warmer climes
Or those with lavish body hair
I still employ them every day
Perhaps because I have not found
A single more effective way
To hold my pockets off the ground


Copyright © 2010 by Dave Grossman

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The Phlebotomist Shows You Her Tattoo


Some poems have meanings that are straightforward, obvious. Others carry within them a message that’s more elusive, yet somehow are still pleasing. This Poem of the Week falls into the later category. I’d be curious, my readers – what did this one mean to you? The Phlebotomist Shows You Her Tattoo After she sanitized, pricked (one demand), suctionedyour blood, the phlebotomist bares her arm voluntarily, brags a tattoo as bright as RBCs in the vacuum tube.She never faints. Never flinches. Never, you imagine, avoids eye contact when someone’s inevitable news,the worst-case scenario kind, pings on a screen or tumbles into Voice Messages without any specifics (Will you die?Will God care?), and results arrive as notifications, ask politely, pretty-please, at your earliest convenience willyou schedule an appointment with the doctor (unavailable until 2025), who will be happy to explain in detailthe missing pieces of any diagnosis. No this tattooed twenty-something, without blinking a pore,rolls up her left sleeve just as he asked you to do, as she herself has been asked to do a dozen timesat Funky Art, Kingdom of Ink, Black and Blue,Tattoo Nation. And this same phlebotomist – who never faints, never flinches as you stare away from your post-punctured arm –this woman the age of your daughter automatically flexes her muscleand the red sun on her decorated bicep pops up – just like that –as mercy, as hope.         Marjorie Maddox

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Certain Doom at the Coffee Shop


I’m indebted to my friend Dave for another offering for the Poem of the Week. As Halloween is approaching soon, this may help set the mood.

Certain Doom at the Coffee Shop

Entropy is at work on me
I evaporate inevitably
We all have a gradual wasting disease
And so do the rocks and the roads and the breeze

Our skin falls off and it turns into dust
Erosion, abrasion, persuasion and rust
Deteriorating as everything must
In perishability we trust

Entropy is at work on my chair
Straight from the forest awaiting repair
Less and less sturdy and less and less square
Caveat sessor: the sitter beware

Stars use up more of their fuel every day
Galaxies wilt like exhausted bouquets
Particles fizzle and photons decay
Until all that is left is a uniform grey

The heat death of the universe comes
When every last cookie has crumbled to crumbs
The singular sound a homogeneous hum
A durable infinite ocean of numb

There’s a good bit of time ’til the Earth is consumed
Until all of the cosmos is running on fumes
But the heat death of my coffee looms
The cup becomes tepid too terribly soon
I’m hoping to drink it ahead of this doom

Entropy is at work on me
And my metaphor philosophy
But at least it treats us equally
Proletariat, bourgeoisie
Me and the bees and the birds and the trees
My drink and my laptop battery
Which I guess is as fair as fair can be
We’ll all be grey eventually
Guaranteed

Copyright © 2010 by Dave Grossman

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Stigma


This work for the Poem of the Week celebrates the current Weltgeist of diversity. As with any idea that stakes out absolute righteousness for itself, the Woke Movement is at risk of falling prey to fanaticism, intolerance, and many of the evils it seeks to cure. As the pendulum’s arc becomes bigger and bigger, those in the middle tend to get cut smaller and smaller, or pushed to one of the extremes. One can only hope that the last part of the poem will be the one to prevail.

Stigma

feels like

a red welt imprinted on vulnerable flesh

the glare of harsh light trained on intimate corners of our lives

a bone-deep aching – only relieved by connection to another

sounds like

fine crystal being pulverized by a hammer

pounding footsteps of predator and prey, muffled cries

of pain when outdated, cruel beliefs separate and shame us

smells like

the stench of rotting piles of stereotypes

the mildew of fear compounded by ignorance

mixed with a whiff of arrogance toward the unfortunate  “other”

tastes like

salty tears cried alone

bile that rises when labels obscure and minimize our rue selves

a cold lump of sorrow that we swallow today and then again, tomorrow

looks like

brief, furtive glances, others hostile

and unabashed, the hand too quickly withdrawn

a subtle wince at a casual comment that abrades a tender spot

Stigma dissolves with

feelings of compassion flooding into those closed off chambers in our hearts

sounds of conversation breaking out among those too long without voices

the scent of fresh perspective rushing into an airless & stifling room

the taste of freedom – to fill ourselves with the truth of who we really are

the sight of human beings, all flawed and shining, arms open wide

beckoning each of us to our place in an ever expanding circle.

  • Sylvia S. Villareal
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The Decline and Fall of Cursive


Remember starting school and being taught cursive handwriting, carefully spacing your letters between the lines of the paper? Though the beauty my handwriting has deteriorated quite a bit over the years (almost a requirement of being a physician), I still write handwritten notes on birthday cards, Christmas letters, thank you notes.  It came as a bit of a shock to me that since 2010 cursive was omitted from the new national Common Core standards for K-12 education. Apparently, there was quite push back on this rule, so that now 20 states still require some kind of cursive instruction. However, for the majority of those who have come of school age since that time, they are not only unable to write cursive, but also unable to read it.

As both a teacher and a physician, I have always written handwritten notes to my students, patients and office assistants, never realizing that those born after 2006 may not be able to read them! You would think that someone would have brought this to my attention, but it has never happened, as I suppose for those unable to read my words have been able to find someone to translate for them.

I suppose writing is a form of technology, and tech always changes with time. In this age of digital technology, the printed word has supplanted the handwritten one. Still, think of all the children who will not be able to read their parents, grandparents, or other ancestors’ letters! Or the English or history students who will be unable to read the diaries or works of those whose lives they are studying!

 I gained a lot of insight into the creative process of famous writers by looking at their original texts, seeing what words have been crossed out, changed, edited. All this granularity of the created work will now require a translator for this new generation unable to read cursive. I can’t help but feel sad for all those who will miss out on the inspiration and excitement I experienced by interacting with the physical embodiment of thoughts and ideas voiced by a person long dead. The inability to read handwriting deprives society of direct access to its own past. As such, it’s a form of poverty, along with our ever growing loss of plant and animal species throughout our world.

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Ideas


This Poem of the Week is arriving a little late, and the reason is not important. Hope you enjoyed it, anyway.

Ideas

Ideas are like dust and lint
They ceaselessly appear
Churned out dirty from the mint
They choke the atmosphere
It’s easy to detect them
They are coating every surface
The trick is to collect them
And to make them serve a purpose
To separate the choicest bits
To pound and sand and scrape them
To wad them up and make them stick
To polish and reshape them
Peeling, padding, painting, poking
Pressure, glue and heat
Strongarm tactics, gentle coaxing
Charges and retreats
To add, subtract, adjust, combine
To trim but not diminish
And most of all, to draw the line
That says the thing is finished

Copyright © 2003 by Dave Grossman

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Yes and No


One never wants to say “no” to life, and hope is the driving force into tomorrow, as illustrated by this Monday’s Poem of the Week. Given the vagaries of my schedule coming up in future months, from now on, this post should be considered just Poem of the Week, as it may be difficult to hew to a strict Monday schedule. Hope you check in, regardless. Be well, stay healthy.

Yes & No

The woman with fewer than six months

got engaged today

in the exam room. Both

of them seemed pleased, saying Yes

and Yes over and over, smiling.

Who knows

why – perhaps the breathless

part of him that already mourns and calls

my office over and over saying What

can I do for her, what

can I do?

  • Jillian Barnet
Posted in America, Death and Dying, friendship, Grief, Happiness, Health and wellness, Love, Marriage, Medicine, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings | 1 Comment

Making Arrangements


Welcome to another Monday’s Poem of the Week. As I observe the passage of the vignettes around me that make up the great play of life, I often fantasize about the back stories of the players creating the scenes. The following poem is one such imagining.

Making Arrangements

Propped on one shoulder, a man lies on the grass.

His soft body emanates ease – light glints off his spectacles and rosy scalp.

Hours yet till midday, the lush green carpet makes a pleasant dais

for old bones, now warmed by the sun.

Once in a while his right arm swings up in a lazy arc

as he flings weeds and dead grass into a small mound.

Passing by, I wonder what his life contained before

this morning. Was there a briefcase stretched with documents

or perhaps a stethoscope? And where did the aging white Cadillac

now rusting in the driveway, ferry him in days past?

At present, he labors in elegant solitude, humming

softly, happily absorbed in clearing his designated plot.

Seemingly content to burrow deeper, deeper

into cool, welcoming earth.

  • Sylvia S. Villareal
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